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Let’s Get Physical – Celebrate Health and Sports Day Today!

Date Published: Last Update:2015/05/14 Traditional Culture , ,

Today is Health and Sports Day in Japan (体育の日Taiiku no Hi). It is a national holiday that is held annually to commemorate the 1964 Summer Olympics that was held in Tokyo. Nowadays, it still exists to promote sports and active lifestyle among the Japanese.

The 1964 Summer Olympics

Five decades ago, Tokyo was the host of the 1964 Summer Olympics. It is a very important event for the world had experienced many first things in history. The first Olympics to be telecast internationally without the need for tapes to be flown overseas, the Shinkansen (bullet train) started its operations between Tokyo and Shin-Ōsaka Station were among them.

Summer Olympics, as it name suggests, is done in summer but the 1964 Olympics was a bit late and was held in October which it is already Autumn in Japan . It is done so to accommodate athletes from both warm and cold countries. Summer in Japan is very hot and humid while spring has unstable weather. Because early autumn is the peak of typhoon season, experts believed that October is a good choice to avoid that season.

The Beginning of Health and Sports Day

Two years after the Tokyo Olympics, October 10 was designated as a national holiday as a commemoration of the said event. In year 2000, Health and Sports day was moved to every second Monday of October as a result of the Happy Monday System (remember what happened to Keirou no Hi?).

Athletic Meets or Undoukai

As today’s holiday promotes sports and active lifestyle, many companies and schools across Japan do their athletic meet (運動会 undoukai) during this day. Popular games and sports in this meet includes traditional track and field events, Tamaire (玉入れ, a ball toss game, in which balls are thrown into a basket on a high pole), tug-o-war, sack races and others. Rajio Taisō or Radio Calisthenics is also performed at the beginning and end of the day.

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Schools do their athletic meet or undoukai during the Taiiku no Hi. (Photo by JoshBerglund19 on Flickr)

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Tamaire is one of the popular events during undoukai in schools. (Photo by Daa Nell on Flickr)

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Kiba-sen or Mock Cavalry Battle is also one of the popular events. (Photo by Ryan Latta on Flickr)

Health and Sports Day 2014

Since its creation, records show that the Health and Sports Day has generally been blessed with fine weather (Web-Japan.org). This year though might be different because Typhoon Vongfong which is the strongest storm to hit Japan this year has made landfall and as of press time, injured at least 30 people in Okinawa. It is expected to pass Tokyo on Tuesday. Vongfong, which means wasp in Cantonese, currently has winds of up to 120km/h (75 mph), with gusts of 175km/h, the Japan Meteorological Agency says (BBC). If ever you are in Japan today be vigilant and always on the lookout for storm and tsunami warnings.

If ever you have wonderful weather today, go out and celebrate Health and Sports Day!

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